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YK’s spring carnival half-day civic holiday is confirmed

Flags fly outside Yellowknife City Hall on September 30, 2019. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Civil servants in Yellowknife will have Friday afternoon off after city council enacted a bylaw granting a half-day civic holiday.

The bylaw passed its second and third readings on Monday night. The move means most city workers will be off work from 12pm till 5pm on Friday for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s spring carnival.

In the past, the same civic holiday was granted for the Long John Jamboree – a weekend-long March festival on Yellowknife Bay – but that event hasn’t gone ahead since 2019.

The city says the NWT government ordinarily respects one half-day civic holiday declared by the municipality each year, meaning some GNWT staff may also get the half-day holiday where operationally possible, though in this instance the notice is unusually short.



NWT government human resources documentation notes that “time off for special occasions, such as local winter festivals” can be approved by the deputy minister of the Department of Finance.

Employees of private businesses are not affected by the city’s declaration unless their employer separately decides to allow staff time off for the carnival.

“Enjoy the festivities, everybody,” Mayor Rebecca Alty declared as the bylaw authorizing the half-day holiday was passed.

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation spring carnival returned in 2022 after a two-year absence and has a full schedule planned for its 2023 edition this coming weekend, March 31-April 2.



A fishing derby will take place on Friday, followed by an evening talent show. Saturday involves a carnival, pond hockey and a range of outdoor events. Sunday brings a pancake breakfast, baking contest and community feast. A hand games tournament runs throughout the weekend.

The half-day holiday coincides with a feeding-the-fire ceremony at 1:30pm inside Dettah’s Chief Drygeese Centre, then the start of the hand games tournament from 2pm till 6pm in the community gym.

Events take place in Dettah, with hourly buses to and from Ndılǫ.